What is the Whole30?

fine herbs on white
fine herbs on white

whole30 explained

One of the focuses here at PICK + PALEO is the Whole30. Both of us are big fans of the programme, having completed the 30 day nutritional reset numerous times. But for those of you wondering “what IS this Whole30 thing” we thought we would break it down in a simple explanation.

The Whole30 is really what it says on the tin – 30 days of whole “clean” eating. It was established by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in April 2009, and they describe it as “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system”.

For most of us, we live our daily life eating a huge assortment of food groups – some of which may be having a negative impact on our health without us even knowing it. Certain foods are psychologically unhealthy (i.e. our cravings), other foods unbalance our hormones, some disrupt our gut and others are inflammatory. How do you know which ones affect you personally, until you cut them out?

What the Whole30 aims to do is strip your diet right back to basics for 30 days, allowing your body to “reset”, heal and recover from any effects you may be suffering from these food groups. At the end of the 30 days you reintroduce the food groups so you can learn how the foods you’ve been regularly eating are affecting your health and your life.

Both of us have experienced huge benefits from the Whole30 including:

  • better skin, shinier hair, stronger nails and clear eyes
  • deeper sleep
  • weight loss and improved body composition
  • consistent and stable energy levels
  • improvement in digestive ailments
  • changed tastes, habits and cravings
  • a better emotional and psychological response to food
  • better performance physically when exercising (and quicker recovery afterwards)

So, what’s in, and what’s out?

For 30 days, we eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, fruit, and plenty of good fats from oils, nuts and seeds. We eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

What we don’t eat during a Whole30 is any kind of sugar (real or artificial) or sweetener (yup – that means no honey, agave, coconut sugar, stevia etc). No alcohol. No grains – wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgar, quinoa etc etc. No legumes – beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils or peanuts. No soy. No dairy – cheese, yoghurt, milk of any kind is out. No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. And finally – no recreating baked goods, junk foods or treats with approved Whole30 ingredients. That means no paleo cupcakes!

It sounds hard right? WRONG. One of our favourite quotes from the Whole30 is:

Whole30 is not hard

The best thing about the Whole30?

EVERY SINGLE RESOURCE YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE PROGRAMME IS AVAILABLE COMPLETELY FREE! We love that Dallas and Melissa are so committed to improving the health of everyone and anyone who is interested, that they provide all the details on how to successfully undertake a Whole30 on their website. 

If you want to read further (and we highly suggest you do) their two books are awesome:

For a more in-depth sciency approach and a look at WHY your body reacts to certain foods the way it does, check out It Starts With Food.

It Starts With Food

If you just want to get started with a clear overview of what and how to do the Whole30 (including tips, meal planning strategies, and success stories), as well as over 100 delicious recipes to get you started, check out the latest Whole 30 book here.

The Whole 30

We will continue to reference the Whole30, discuss our personal experiences, and feature Whole30 recipes and products here on PICK + PALEO.

Have you completed the Whole30 before? Let us know how you found it in the comments!